Craft Show Etiquette

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Let me start by saying, I love selling at craft shows – I legitimately find it an enjoyable way to spend a weekend. Seeing who our products appeal to, watching folks interact with our products, talking to both show goers and other sellers, it’s all so valuable. It doesn’t hurt that you spend a weekend listening to people tell you how great what you created is…

After selling at quite a few shows, and doing a lot of people watching in the process, I wanted to address the topic of Craft Show Etiquette. These are all things that have happened in our booth. Most of this seems like things people aren’t doing on purpose, but it couldn’t hurt to keep it back of mind next time you’re perusing booths at a craft show.

INTERACTING WITH MERCHANDISE PART 1:

Please, do touch the merchandise. Feel the quality of the materials used, the details that the artist put into each piece. That’s one of the benefits to live shows, potential customers can get up close and personal with your products, and it usually leads to more sales.

However, please do not touch the merchandise if you just ate something with your hands, that includes that little piece of chocolate that you were handed as a sample. This past weekend, we actually had to pull coasters out of our display because they had chocolate smudges on them. That’s inventory that we could not sell that weekend and now has to be cleaned before it can be sold for a lower price as B-stock.

On that same vein, if you’re drinking something as you shop (it’s incredibly common), please be careful at what angle you hold your drink. Drips can quickly render a product unsellable. Try not to leave your sweating cup on the table, causing a wet spot on the tablecloth or display, it makes the booth look less tidy. Definitely don’t leave your empty cup or food wrapper in the booth.

When you pick something up, try to put it back where you found it, and please do not purposely rearrange the display because you’d like it better a certain way. The artist took time in the morning to set up their display how they’d like it.

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INTERACTING WITH THE MERCHANDISE PART 2: KIDS:

I’m a parent, in fact, a lot of sellers at shows are parents – some even have their kids in their booths during the shows. When I bring my son (who is a pre-schooler) to walk a craft show with me, he is made very aware that he isn’t supposed to touch anything without my permission. I watch him like a hawk and if he goes to touch something without permission, I stop him. I encourage him to acknowledge the artist, at least with a ‘hi’.

Show after show, I watch as kids enter the booth and immediately start touching everything. They rearrange things, knock things over, and in multiple cases have destroyed parts of our display using one of our self-inking stamps. This weekend, only one parent told their kid not to play with our display. Please watch (and intervene when necessary with) your kids, it’s so disrespectful to the artists to let your kids run wild in the booths and just give a kids-will-be-kids shrug when they ruin something.

INTERACTING WITH THE SELLER

Ask the artists questions! People who create for a living have a passion for their art form and love to talk about their products, their inspiration, future plans for various products/lines, what went into making the finished piece, etc. I promise that if you talk to the artist, they aren’t going to automatically expect you to purchase something. However, if you notice the booth is filling up with other potential customers, and you aren’t planning to buy something, it is courteous to let the artist attend to the other shoppers. Some shoppers will put a potential purchase back if they aren’t being attended to. Which leads me to the next one:

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This sounds like a weird one, but feel free to use your discretion and interrupt (this might not be a universal feeling among all artists though). If I’m stamping business cards, I don’t mind stopping to chat or answer questions. If I’m ringing up another customer, simply catch my eye so I can acknowledge that I’ll either be right with you as soon as I’m done with that transaction. If I’m talking very familiarly with someone who isn’t buying something, I probably know them from somewhere. They will completely understand that attending to you is more important as you might have a question or could be a paying customer. And definitely interrupt if I’m talking to someone selling with me behind the table – I’m going to spend 8+ hours of the day with that person, our conversation can certainly wait.

If you’re interested in purchasing online, or just generally curious, ask if the artist has a website, don’t ask if they have an Etsy. Overall, artists have been moving towards having websites that they own and sell through, and those who solely sell on Etsy will direct you to their Etsy. This may not make sense to the general public, just trust me on this one.

If you’re interested in an artist’s work, you should definitely take a business card, or ask for one if there aren’t any sitting out. Craft shows are about more than just selling products, they’re amazing experiential marketing opportunities for the artists. Mike and I love giving away our business cards because when we attend shows, we shop by taking business cards too. We know that you might not buy right away, but taking a card leaves the possibility of a future sale open. Fun fact, if you misplace a business card or forgot to pick one up, most shows will have a roster on their website of who was exhibiting until the next show roster is announced.

Sometimes people come into a booth and start snapping photos, if you’re posting a photo of something that you saw at a craft show online, tag the artist or their company name – then they get the benefit of interested parties being able to check out their work as well. The same goes for if you take a photo of something that you bought in the context of your house or on your person. As an artist, it’s awesome to see your products out of your studio.

IN CONCLUSION

Remember, each booth is full of thousands of dollars worth of handmade merchandise created by an artist. It usually costs hundreds of dollars to have a booth at a craft show. It takes a lot of work to build up enough inventory to stock a booth, as well as set-up/dress the booth, and work the booth for the weekend.

Craft shows are an awesome weekend activity – for artists and customers alike. If you haven’t been to one, you should definitely give it a try – you’ll see some beautiful things, some innovative things, and some really weird things that leave you scratching your head. Come say ‘hi’ to us at Wilder Mansion November 3/4th, Show of Hands November 11/12/13, and One of a Kind December 12/13/14/15 – we’d love to see you! Just make sure there’s no chocolate on your fingers ;)